gwendolyn faith is not a crayon.

Hello, I’m Gwen.

I work in advertising. I play in the kitchen.

I’m part tweenager. (Look at my iTunes playlist.)

I’m part Grandma. (Look at my oversize cardi collection.)

I’m part Romy or Michelle. (Look at the height of my hair.)

As a Christian, I'm learning how to glorify God in the everyday. To live into the status quo, like Jesus' own Manchurian candidate, and seep grace through its cracks.

I wish my life were a musical, but other than that, I’m pretty content.

(No surprise I also like to Yelp.)

The Casual Vacancy
The Explicit Gospel
Freedom
Gone Girl
The Chaperone
Cutting for Stone


Gwen Daniels's favorite books »


ireadirise:

Reading is fun with friends for Cris Beam, author of To the End of June: An Intimate Life of American Foster Care. The New York Times calls it “A triumph of narrative reporting and storytelling…an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children.” Bravo, Cris! A beautiful book. 

As I’ve mentioned many a time, I’ve dreamed of one day adopting and/or fostering, caring for children whose first families are unable or unwilling to raise them in the short or long term. But while I like the idea of fostering, I have admittedly limited, next to no, experience with the child welfare system.

Cris Beams’ To the End of June provides a sweeping overview of American foster care, interweaving facts and figures about the system with stories of children inside. Babies whose future hangs in limbo. Kids who bounce between agencies, foster homes and group homes, their hopes torn between prospective parents’ promise and birth parents’ fundamental pull. Teenagers, some eager to live on their own and others clinging to the hope of a forever family, who age out of the system without the life skills that lead to success.

Not surprisingly, the forecast looks dim for all involved. Birth parents are ill-equipped to implement the changes required to regain custodial rights. Foster parents are offered little support to navigate the challenges of their new family. And children, precious children, fall through the cracks into abuse, poverty, jail and homelessness—outcomes that can be worse, experts argue, than what they left behind. (To the End of June offers a detailed look at all these phenomenons.)

By and large, the foster system fails—fails children, fails birth parents, fails foster parents, fails everyone—because we develop child welfare policies as a reaction to deeper problems instead of addressing the roots of the issue. (I use “we” intentionally; turning a blind eye on forces that harm children, we’re all culpable for the status quo.) As Beam suggests toward the end of her book:

This is why child welfare experts try to fix the myriad problems in child welfare and fail: the problems are rooted in a society that cares little for its children, for its poor, its mentally ill, undereducated, incarcerated, addicted, and isolated. Child welfare is but a thimbleful of water on a raging social fire; [even well-meaning foster families] couldn’t begin to contain its flames.

Whether or not I, we, foster children,we can reform the child welfare system by reforming the structures underneath. From prenatal and maternal health to sustainable employment and education for all, the fundamental building blocks of community development provide families the tools to parent and to thrive.

PS: Shout-out to Rebba for lending me the book!

aperol-meet-the-candidates:

Multitasking is a highly desired skill we’re looking for in our Chief Brunch Officer. Can you top this juggling act?

Attention, brunchers! My roommate, Dipika, stumbled across Aperol Spritz’s “Brunch for a Living” campaign, which will crown Chief Brunch Officers in four markets to enjoy amazing brunches with their friends at the hottest spots in their cities all summer long and share the happiness by spreading the word of their signature cocktail, the Aperol Spritz, with an ever-increasing group of interesting people. Follow Aperol Brunch Society on Tumblr to enter the contest and hear more.

hnnhtylr:

ashtonlives:

"Do not disbelieve, but believe." John 20:27

thankful that i serve a God in the business of beating death.

oh death, where is your victory? oh death, where is your sting?

(via bigfunnywords)

popculturebrain:

New Trailer: ‘Orange Is the New Black' Season 2 - June 6

Trailers for Orange is the New Black and Gone Girl in one week?! I’m so excited about this year’s entertainment options, y’all.

I’m looking forward to a movie that’s deliciously, devilishly, good.

popculturebrain:

Trailer: ‘Gone Girl' - Oct. 3

Have y’all hard about Amazon Smile?! Apparently I’ve been in the dark for the past few months, but from now on, I’ll be making my purchases in support of one of my favorite charities. (You can pick from countless organizations beyond the few featured on the Amazon Smile homepage.)

thatsnotwhatiheard:

image

[…]

When you log into Amazon do it via the http://smile.amazon.com/ address.  They’ll prompt you once to setup you a charity of choice and they donate a small (0.5%) percentage to the charity of your purchase. Not a HUGE percentage but everything counts.  All prices are the same you just have to remember to go to smile.amazon.com.

[…]

millionsmillions:

”[Donna] Tartt’s prose has the unfakeable depth and luster of long gestation, reward for the decade-long waits between her books.” – Janice Clark

Strangely bored by the Secret History, Donna Tartt’s prolific first, I resisted the Goldfinch for months; I’d heard horror stories about a detour to Vegas, hundreds of pages long.

But for the past two weeks, I’ve been reading the Goldfinch in greedy gulps, downing chapter after chapter whenever I could steal a moment on the El or in a waiting room or before bed through half-closed lids.

Somehow, though, I lost interest as the Goldfinch reached its peak—a peak drawn with international intrigue and mystery and, oh, drugged haze. Is excitement not my cup of tea?!

You see, we’ve come to define ‘social’ in unintentional Orwellian double-speak. ‘Social’ has come to mean the exact opposite of what it’s meant for centuries. Instead of actual interaction and communication, we define ‘social’ as once- or twice-removed ego validation through button-clicking.

'Social' is what happens when someone posts personal information—photos, thoughts, announcements, favorite songs, jokes—on the internet and another person comes along and clicks a thumbs up icon or a star or a heart. If someone’s really 'social,' they’ll even type a comment or reply.

Kids aren’t leaving social networks. They’re redefining the word ‘social.’ Rather, they’re actually using the word with the intent of its original meaning: making contact with other human beings. Communicating. Back-and-forth, fairly immediate dialogue. Most of it digitally. But most of it with the intent of a conversation where two (or more) people are exchanging information and emotion. Not posting it. Exchanging it.

Bailey Lauerman’s Cliff Watson on the evolution of social media—which, following teens’ lead, we increasingly define not as static, interface-based URLs and apps but as straightforward messaging services. Insightful (and funny!) food for thought for anyone who works in the marketing realm!

(via wearethedigitalkids)

Another shameless plug to ask for your support before Thursday’s fundraiser! Thanks again for your consideration, all.

thatgirlgwen:

In a few weeks, I’ll be participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago’s annual bowling fundraiser, Bowl for Kids’ Sake, and I’m taking to social media to raise support! Will you please consider contributing to the cause?

I’ve been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters at a Boys & Girls Club in Uptown practically since I moved to Chicago. Through their mentoring programs, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes measurable progress to help all children reach their potential—regardless of the hand they’ve been dealt. For example, 94% of Littles enrolled in Chicago’s community-based program maintained or improved their attitudes toward risky behaviors; in another survey, 67% of former Littles agreed their Big played a role in their decision to attend college.

Thanks for your support, friends!